MEET THE AWARD-WINNING TEAM THAT BRINGS YOUR PROJECT TO LIFE. 

Working with DESIGNfirst, you won't have to worry about coordinating and budgeting for designers, contractors, and other necessities—we handle everything for you.  Our Chicago design/build firm manage the entire project with a diverse team of in-house experts, who work together to simplify the process for homeowners and make high-end designs accessible to more people.  Get to know the people behind DESIGNfirst that keep our clients coming back, year after year.

 

Designers

Our architectural design team spend hands-on time with homeowners, developing project ideas into real plans. They consult with you in your home, sketching, rendering and finding creative solutions, and ultimately package projects and start turning a vision into a reality.

 

Developers and Coordinators

Our in-house development team manage all interior design details, helping you find the best materials like countertops, cabinetry and tile that represent your style and align with your budget.  Our Coordination team manage all of the paperwork and permitting, to ensure everything is in place before construction begins.

 

Project Managers

Our project managers work in the field, supervising the construction process.  They make sure that everything is completed to specification, and that all of our work meets your expectations.  If you need anything during the building process, your project manager is there to help.  Our Chicago design/build team and process make renovating and remodeling more efficient, more cost-effective and more easily-managed than any other Chicago-land company.

 

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TONY SLADE

Owner & Lead Designer

The first of our amazing team.

Tony’s vision, passion and a phenomenal imagination make him the unique designer he...

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TONY SLADE

Owner & Lead Designer

The first of our amazing team.

Tony’s vision, passion and a phenomenal imagination make him the unique designer he is today. With over ten years of hands-on experience in all areas of design, construction, and technology, he is always thinking of the big picture without sacrificing the details. Accented by an education in Business Administration and Finance, Tony works diligently to discover and design the most valuable projects for his clients.

 

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Dan Schoendorff

Owner/ General Manager

Enhancing our teams Since December 2016

Long-time friend of Tony Slade, Dan’s vision is clear: provide...

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Dan Schoendorff

Owner/ General Manager

Enhancing our teams Since December 2016

Long-time friend of Tony Slade, Dan’s vision is clear: provide customers with the highest level of service in all areas and work diligently to offer the greatest value for every project.

Dan works closely with a dedicated, experienced team of professionals at Design First Builders who share his enthusiasm for this industry and he has been responsible for helping several companies in the industry win countless awards for design creativity and construction excellence.

Not content to simply design and build fabulous custom homes and renovation projects for his clients, Dan understands the need to offer additional services, and believes his company’s Cooking Skills Academy and Cabinet Works company rise to the occasion. Today, Dan enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a designer and builder, with satisfied customers and magnificent projects throughout Chicagoland.

Dan earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a master’s degree from Newman University. Dan and his wife Monique have two children and live in Oswego, Illinois. Dan enjoys spending time with his family, and is active with the Knights of Columbus, the world's largest fraternal organization dedicated to providing charitable services, promoting education and actively working to provide insurance to care for the widows and orphans who are left behind.

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SEAN EFTEKHARI

Accounts Manager & Bookkeeper

Enhancing our team since March 2014

Sean, Who is an essential member of our accounting team, grew up in...

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SEAN EFTEKHARI

Accounts Manager & Bookkeeper

Enhancing our team since March 2014

Sean, Who is an essential member of our accounting team, grew up in Evanston, IL and completed his undergraduate studies at California State University in Northridge, CA. He has been working as a full-charge bookkeeper for small businesses for over 10 years and also has an active interest in IT & PC repair. His passions in life are cooking and watching soccer. He was fortunate enough to find someone whom he married in August 2014 who is as passionate about cooking and soccer as he is. Sean is always working to better his abilities, both personally and professionally, and we are grateful to have him on our team!

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TOM ROMANELLO

Director Of Operation Advancement

Enhancing our team since May 2016

Tom joined our team with one goal. To help with our efficiency and...

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TOM ROMANELLO

Director Of Operation Advancement

Enhancing our team since May 2016

Tom joined our team with one goal. To help with our efficiency and standards. His experience through his years allows him to do so with impressive guidance and technique.

Tom's drive for excellence started at a young age. He obtained an MBA from lake forest, and soon after ventured into the work force. Including 40 years of retail management, marketing, food development and implementation, and various senior management positions at large corporations like, Jewel-Osco, 7-11, and Walgreen.

His knack for details keeps the rest of us on the straight and narrow. Tom has a way of ensuring a satisfying outcome for all parties involved in whatever process is at the top of his priority at the moment, which makes him an incredible asset to DESIGNfirst Builders.

His determinations and discipline for his career are very much apparent and his Six Sigma Green Belt certification is a true testament to that.

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JENNALYN ALUNAN

Administrative Service & Marketing Associate

Enhancing our team since September, 2015

Jennalyn is a highly skilled individual with a...

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JENNALYN ALUNAN

Administrative Service & Marketing Associate

Enhancing our team since September, 2015

Jennalyn is a highly skilled individual with a strong background in personal communication. She studied Marketing Communications with a focus in Advertising at Columbia College in Chicago.

Jennalyn has a diverse background with experience in multiple businesses in Chicago-land through various internships. She is known to enjoy a challenge and has years of customer facing interactions to help her become our fantastic front desk personality. She is also a strong presence on our Social Media accounts, as well as a great help maintaining our website (www.designfirstbuilders.com) and a strong member of the Cooking Skills Academy.com team.

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ADAM DELAY

Design Manager, Consultant, & Principal Marketing Associate

Enhancing our team since January 2010

With a personality full of positivity...

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ADAM DELAY

Design Manager, Consultant, & Principal Marketing Associate

Enhancing our team since January 2010

With a personality full of positivity and endless energy, Adam’s aptitude in computer generated design is unparalleled. Having first worked in drafting construction documents for large scale commercial projects, Adam’s talents seamlessly transferred over to residential design in 2006. With his experience and skills, Adam produces designs above and beyond what our clients can envision on their own. He enjoys seeing our clients’ projects come to life before the project has even begun construction.

He is also responsible for our Social Media, Graphic Design & Showroom Maintenance and Organizatioin.

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DANIELLE HOUSE

Senior Designer

Enhancing our team since December 2014

From a young child, Danielle has always found an interest in Architecture,...

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DANIELLE HOUSE

Senior Designer

Enhancing our team since December 2014

From a young child, Danielle has always found an interest in Architecture, design and fashion. She found most of her inspiration from the stories her father would tell her working in his own construction & concrete business. It instilled a drive to make the construction and design field work closer together and lead her to attending Harrington College of Design.

After her college career, Danielle found herself interning at a "High-end" Kitchen studio and found a greater passion for kitchen and bathroom design. She continued her career designing and developing kitchens and bathrooms for four years before making her way into our pocket.

She's a true asset to our team. Her responsible and caring nature comfort our clients, and helps them to better understand our design-build process. Her strong communication skills help everyone from internal staff, contractors, and clients keep a sense of community, and ultimately enables her to show the care each client deserves.

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MARK MACHAJ

Lead Designer

Enhancing our Team Since August 2015

As a child, Mark loved to play the “what-if” game. Now, as an adult who has a strong...

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MARK MACHAJ

Lead Designer

Enhancing our Team Since August 2015

As a child, Mark loved to play the “what-if” game. Now, as an adult who has a strong desire to help you find solutions to help you fall in love with your home, you will value Mark’s desire to think outside of the box. He specializes in understanding your specific needs and issues, and clearly articulates how we can help you solve them, in ways you may never have considered.

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MIKE MOFFIT

Project Coordinator

Enhancing our team since May 2011

Always motivated, Mike was self employed for over 20 years in the construction...

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MIKE MOFFIT

Project Coordinator

Enhancing our team since May 2011

Always motivated, Mike was self employed for over 20 years in the construction industry. A man completely emerged into technology, Mike is always the first person to use a new gadget. He is continually looking for ways to be more efficient and organized to expedite his clients’ projects.

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PRESTON FAWCETT

Master Architect (BlueLines, Inc. CEO)

Enhancing our team since 2005

One of the most prolific residential Architects in Chicagoland,...

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PRESTON FAWCETT

Master Architect (BlueLines, Inc. CEO)

Enhancing our team since 2005

One of the most prolific residential Architects in Chicagoland, Preston has an admired empathy for his clients. Understanding his clients as thoroughly as he understands their projects makes Preston’s design perspective nearly impeccable. Growing up extremely close to his grandfather, a successful carpenter, Preston began assisting in a hands-on manner at the age of just 8 years old. Preston continued on to a technical highschool for architecture and then graduated from the University of Illinois in Chicago with his Architecture degree. He has been practicing for over 25 years now and is licensed in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

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Samuel Pavlovcik

Senior Architect (ALA, NCARB)

Enhancing our team since February 2017

Samuel graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology...

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Samuel Pavlovcik

Senior Architect (ALA, NCARB)

Enhancing our team since February 2017

Samuel graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture with a bachelor's of Architecture and a minor in Structural Engineering. While attending IIT, Samuel was able to broaden his design experience while participating in a study abroad program with that traveled throughout Italy from Rome to Venice.

Samuel has experience with a variety of project types, ranging from master park planning while in West Palm Beach, FL, to restaurant design right here in Chicago. Samuel has extensive experience with projects located mostly in Chicago, with a concentration on single family, and multi-family residential projects; including both rehab. and new construction.

Samuel is NCARB certificatified and currently holds active architecture licenses in Illinois and Indiana.

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DAVID DIAL

Architectural Developer

Enhancing our team since June 2014

David attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of...

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DAVID DIAL

Architectural Developer

Enhancing our team since June 2014

David attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture. There, he studied to obtain his Bachelor's of Science in Architectural Studies. Excelling through school allowed David to enhance his ability to better understand construction documents and design.

We initially brought David on as an intern, but soon saw great potential in his abilities to understand construction, and an unmatched ability to follow direction. Although he started in various departments such as, purchasing, coordination, and production, he found his place in Architecture shortly after.

His skills are impressive and important, as he's a key member of the team. He's Responsible for accurately measuring and drafting existing conditions after sale, completing construction documents, both for permit and client interaction, as well as complete construction drawings for our Production team.

We're happy to see David continue his passion in Architecture working along side our team, and are eager to see his continued progress.

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KIM MALITO

Interior Design & Development

Enhancing our team since 2013

When it comes to design, Kim doesn’t mind taking risks. With a unique...

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KIM MALITO

Interior Design & Development

Enhancing our team since 2013

When it comes to design, Kim doesn’t mind taking risks. With a unique background in the arts, she excels when it comes to thinking of out of the box design solutions. A thoroughly motivated and energetic individual, she works to make sure every detail is to the likeness of her clients. It is among her main goals that through her imagination and creativity their project becomes something even better than what they had imagined.

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DIANA RIZKO

Interior Design & Development

Enhancing our team since August 2012

Diana has had a passion for Art and design since she was young. This...

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DIANA RIZKO

Interior Design & Development

Enhancing our team since August 2012

Diana has had a passion for Art and design since she was young. This passion led her to earn a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Lebanese American University and a Masters degree in Interior Design from Harrington College of Design.

Under the supervision of Italian designers, and living and traveling through Europe, as well as working for an award winning designer in Beirut, Diana found herself exposed to outstanding Architecture and Interior Design techniques; all while teaching as an assistant professor of Interior Design at the Private University of Science and Art in Syria. This experience has not only instilled an appreciation for beauty, but also a need to express it and creating it as well.

Diana joined our team fueled with the most important ingredient- imagination- yet she remains aware of the importance of discipline in every small detail. Diana is one of many talents, but perhaps the best talent she possesses is the ability to provide our clients with a positive and enjoyable remodeling experience.

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SARAH GROTTO

Interior Design & Development

Enhancing our team since: November 2014

Sarah is graced with a bubbling personality that not only...

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SARAH GROTTO

Interior Design & Development

Enhancing our team since: November 2014

Sarah is graced with a bubbling personality that not only brightens the office, but also our client's lives. She Graduated with a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Illinois, as well as an Associates Degree in the applied science of Interior Design from the College of Dupage.

Sarah credits her passion for design at an early age, from watching her childhood home get built from the ground up, and by never being satisfied with stagnant spaces. She considers every space a puzzle, and it's her 'job' to find the best way for it to work, while adding her creative flair. Working in Customer Service for the last seven years has helped develop wide varying relationships and an understanding that each client has specific needs and issues.

Her love for family, traveling, and spending time outdoors is apparent in her care for our clients.

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MATT MCCAW

Director Of Project Management

Enhancing our team since March 2010

With over 18 years of experience in the construction industry, Matt is...

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MATT MCCAW

Director Of Project Management

Enhancing our team since March 2010

With over 18 years of experience in the construction industry, Matt is an expert in all aspects of renovations and remodeling. He is thorough and has a trained eye for even the smallest of discrepancies. Matt works behind the scenes in every phase of construction and on every project. Easy going and honest, he always works to keep his clients comfortable and confident in his team and their abilities.

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GARY POLCYN

Senior Project Manager

Enhancing our team since September 2014

Gary graduated Purdue University with a BSEE and started his career...

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GARY POLCYN

Senior Project Manager

Enhancing our team since September 2014

Gary graduated Purdue University with a BSEE and started his career working for Westinghouse Electric and Hewlett Packard. He joined the family construction business Polcyn Construction in the late 70s and enjoyed the work of residential and commercial remodeling so much, he has continued working in this field thru his current position as Senior Project Manager with Design First.

With nearly 4 decades of remodeling experience with clients ranging from Northwestern University, Santa Fe Railway, North Shore residential projects and historical renovation projects designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Gary is a valued member of our field management team.

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Call Us Today 630-250-7777   |   info@designfirstbuilders.com